SC Johnson & Son, Inc., a multi-billion dollar manufacturer of household cleaning supplies, identified itself Thursday as the $250,000 corporate donor behind Ald. Anthony Beale’s Roseland “cop house.”
“You can’t get any bigger and more credible than that,” Beale (9th) told the Sun-Times.
“This is a great tool that they fund elsewhere. They wanted to bring it to my community. ... To have a Fortune 100 company step up to the plate in my ward is really a tribute to what we’ve been able to do out here.”
SC Johnson is headquartered in Racine, Wis., where five so-called “community oriented policing” houses contributed to a 70% reduction in crime.
The company’s $250,000 commitment in Roseland, where they own Method Manufacturing and a second distribution facility, will test the concept in the Chicago Police Department’s Calumet district.
“As a member of the Chicago community with manufacturing operations in the Pullman neighborhood, SC Johnson is invested in supporting the people and communities where we live and work,” the company said in a statement.
“We view these funds, given to Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, a non-profit organization dedicated to economic development and neighborhood revitalization, as a pathway to help improve outcomes for communities.”
SC Johnson has a vested interest in improving neighborhood safety, Beale said. The company approached him about bankrolling CNI’S purchase and renovation of a Roseland home on a crime-plagued block to create a place where police officers, adult residents and young people can come together to build trust.
After a trip to Racine to see how it works, Beale decided to try it in Chicago, only to have Lightfoot stonewall the idea — with deadly consequences, according to the alderman.
“The very first house we had in mind — we had a contract on it. We ended up losing the contract. Five people have been shot and two people have been killed in or around the house where we were trying to first implement this,” he said.
It wasn’t until this week that Beale, one of Lightfoot’s most outspoken City Council critics, convinced his colleagues to embrace the idea. They passed it unanimously, ignoring the mayor’s concerns about funding, security and her claim that the idea runs contrary to the CPD’s underlying “community policing strategy.”
“The city is up for grabs. It’s time to do something different. … We need to be trying something — if not everything — at this point in time when you have carjackings going through the roof. When you have record numbers of homicides in the city and things are just in turmoil,” Beale said.
“My colleagues see that we have to do something different. … I’m not delusional that this is gonna solve all of our problems. … But if this pilot works, we can roll it out in other areas.”
After the City Council vote, Lightfoot was still raising questions about Beale’s grand experiment.
“The budget. The location. The identity of the [developer]. Who the funder is. What the funding sources are. How this complements, if at all, our community policing strategy. That’s a short list of all the questions,” the mayor said.
“If you look at the actual language of the order, it makes everything contingent upon the satisfaction of the superintendent and the budget director. … And unless and until all of those questions are answered to our satisfaction, it won’t move forward.”
Now that SC Johnson has stepped forward, Beale hopes Lightfoot has no choice but to go along. Never mind that their political feud dates back to his outspoken opposition to the mayor’s choice of Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) as Finance Committee chairman.
“We’re not elected to like each other. We’re not elected to be best friends. We’re elected to move our communities forward. That’s what I’m gonna continue to do,” Beale said.
Toward that end, Beale said it’s high time CPD Supt. David Brown return to crime-plagued neighborhood police districts the “four to six” officers on each watch reassigned to prevent a third round of looting downtown.
“The problems aren’t downtown. If you keep taking our resources downtown, that’s exposing the community that much more,” the alderman said.
Beale argued Brown is “not as visible” as past superintendents and that the retired Dallas police chief made a serious mistake by allowing seasoned veterans like former First Deputy Anthony Riccio, Chief of Patrol Fred Waller and Deputy Supt. Barbara West to retire.
“He got rid of a lot of institutional knowledge. A lot of his top brass was replaced. That is another huge learning curve,” Beale said.
“When he’s trying to learn, you don’t need everybody under you trying to learn as well.”